Jan. 3, 2012 at 1:29 PM ET
EA's ultra-detailed first-person shooter "Crysis 2" surpassed higher profile titles like "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" and "Battlefield 3" to become the most pirated game of 2011, according to tracking data collected by piracy news site TorrentFreak.
An estimated 3.9 million people illegally downloaded the PC version of the "Crysis 2," according to the TorrentFreak's analysis of public BitTorrent trackers and other sources. While a full version of the game actually leaked onto pirate sites about a month ahead of its release, illegal downloads didn't really pick up until the game was released in March, the site said.
Behind "Modern Warfare 3" and "Battlefield 3," soccer simulation "FIFA 12" and perspective-bending first-person puzzler "Portal 2" also made the top 5 for PC BitTorrent downloads, each surpassing an estimated 3 million illegal downloads for the year by a good margin.
Nintendo's 3D platform game "Super Mario Galaxy 2" led TorrentFreak's list of most-pirated Wii games for the second year in a row, while Epic Games' "Gears of War 3" led for Xbox 360 piracy. Both titles ran well behind their pirated PC brethren in popularity, however, with around a million illegal downloads each, possibly owing to the additional difficulties associated with getting pirated games to run on game consoles.
TorrentFreak didn't publicize download numbers for PlayStation 3 games, but did say the well-locked-down system got "considerably less downloads."
While game publishers are quick to publicly cite each of these illegal downloads as a "lost sale," many file sharing advocates insist that pirates would not be in the market for legal versions of these games regardless of the price. Advocates also note that many pirates use illegal downloads to sample a title when no demo is available, or to get around onerous digital rights management requirements in legal versions of the games.